Stock Market

If June is any indication, the appetite for initial public offerings (IPOs) appears to be heating up. Cava (NYSE:CAVA) went public on June 15, selling 14.4 million shares and raising nearly $318 million in the process; it had the best IPO opening since July 2022, suggesting the current environment for companies to go public could be returning to 2021 levels.

“‘Our baseline forecasts point to a further improvement in the IPO environment in second half of 2023,’ Goldman Sachs’ strategists wrote in a note to clients. Still, ‘the improving macro backdrop has not translated into IPO activity yet,” Bloomberg reported on June 20.

There is a metric that tracks the IPO market called the IPO Issuance Barometer. It takes into account various data points including CEO confidence, Institute for Supply Management manufacturing readings, changes to the nominal two-year Treasury yields and others. At the height of the IPO market in 2021, it got to 201. In 2022, it got to a low of 7. It’s currently 93, slightly below the historical median for IPOs. 

With this in mind, I’m selecting three privately-owned businesses that I would consider to be dream IPOs. 

I’m not suggesting any of these have even the slightest chance of happening, but a guy can dream.  


Source: didesign021 /

One of my favorite chocolate bars growing up was the Mars bar from the Mars candy company, a perfect combination of chocolate, caramel and nougat. I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but I always liked their products. 

The company was founded by Frank Mars in 1911 in Tacoma, Washington. Today, Mars sells a lot more than chocolate including human food, pet food, and more. It also owns VCA veterinary clinics, which it acquired in 2017 for $9.1 billion.  

One reason we’ll likely never see Mars go public is that it thinks very long term, not in quarters, like public companies. 

“We think in generations and not in quarters,” Mars CEO Paul Weihrauch told the Financial Times in March. “I’m not here forever, but the Mars family is here forever.” 

The company grew its revenues by 61% over the past eight years from $28 billion in 2015, to $45 billion in 2022. Weihrauch hopes to double them to $90 billion by 2033. An impressive stat: Mars has 12 brands that generate in excess of $1 billion annually. VCA is one of those brands.

Interestingly, Mars generates 20% of its annual revenue from services, much of it from its vet clinics.  

Based on Mondelez International’s (NASDAQ:MDLZ) price-to-sales ratio of 3.05x, Mars would be valued at $137 billion, probably more, were it a public company. 

Bring it on.

Access Industries

Source: David Tonelson /

Access Industries is the privately-held conglomerate owned by Ukranian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index (BBI) places him as the 35th wealthiest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $37 billion

“He incorporated Access Industries, a holding company, in 1986. Four years later, he partnered with his former classmate Viktor Vekselberg to make investments in aluminum businesses that were being privatized by Russian President Boris Yeltsin,” states his BBI Profile page.

“The two began buying smelting factories, and eventually combined those assets into United Co. Rusal, now the world’s second-largest aluminum producer. Access divested its interest in UC Rusal in a private transaction in 2022.”

What does Access own in 2023?

For starters, 70.9% of Warner Music Group (NASDAQ:WMG), 84.5% of the voting power, which he acquired in 2011 for $3.3 billion. His current stake is worth $9.7 billion. This doesn’t take into account the shares he sold in its 2020 IPO and subsequent share sales.

Another big holding is Access Industries’ 20.5% stake in chemical giant LyondellBasell Industies (NYSE:LYB). That’s worth nearly $6 billion. Plus, it pays $5 annually in dividends, which generates $334 million in annual dividend income for Blavatnik.

Other investments include DAZN, the sports streaming platform, commercial real estate worth $2.8 billion through Access Real Estate, and many others.

Standard Industries

Source: Shutterstock

Standard Industries is a privately held global industrial company that operates in over 80 countries. I became aware of Standard through my wife’s construction company. Occasionally, she’ll ask me to research a product they’re interested in using for their projects. 

In one situation, I was researching GAF Energy’s rooftop solar panels that combine the energy efficiency of solar panels with standard roofing tiles. They’ve yet to use the product for a project, but I’m confident they will, in time. 

GAF Energy is just one of Standard Industries’ many operating businesses in the building solutions industry. Others include GAF, the leading North American manufacturer of roofing products. Another is Schiedel, a European company that manufactures flue-ducting, integrated stoves, and ventilation systems for residential and commercial buildings.  

Its other platforms include Performance Materials, Logistics, Investments and Real Estate. I could spend days looking through some of its holdings. 

The company’s co-CEOs are David Millstone and David Winter, both aged 46, and both married to daughters of founder Samuel Heyman. They took the reins of the company in 2009, when Heyman died.

Forbes estimates the company’s annual revenue is $10 billion.

On the date of publication, Will Ashworth did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Will Ashworth has written about investments full-time since 2008. Publications where he’s appeared include InvestorPlace, The Motley Fool Canada, Investopedia, Kiplinger, and several others in both the U.S. and Canada. He particularly enjoys creating model portfolios that stand the test of time. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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